Friday, September 16, 2005

boots on the ground

From Kevin Drum:

Jim Henley points us to a report from the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military that suggests the military isn't quite as anti-gay as it claims to be:

Scholars studying military personnel policy have found a controversial regulation halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized.
....Gay soldiers and legal groups have reported for years that known gays are sent into combat, and then discharged when the conflicts end....But the Pentagon has consistently denied that, when mobilization requires bolstering troop strength, it sends gays to fight despite the existence of a gay ban.

Reasonably enough, Jim suggests that this undermines the entire case for keeping gays out of the military:
Recall that the respectable case against allowing out homosexuals to serve in the military is that it will undermine unit cohesion in the stress of battle. Keeping gays and straights apart in hostilities is what the policy is supposed to be for. If the problem isn’t enough to keep gays out of the wartime Army, it’s certainly not enough to keep them out of the peacetime Army.

Kevin goes on to show that discharges under Don't Ask Don't Tell have decreased by half since 2001.
Is that peak in 2001 just a coincidence? Or did something happen that year that might have caused the military to suddenly decide that a good soldier is a good soldier regardless? I'm sure it will come to me if I think about it a bit....

As the old half-baked rationales for opposing gay rights fall away—"it'll undermine unit cohesion", "the judiciary is imposing its will on the people", "society will disintegrate"—what reasons are left? Don't Ask Don’t Tell "seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests."

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